Thursday assorted links


1. Not decay - it's just that they're having to deal with an aspect of widespread homelessness and drug abuse. It mostly seems to be an urban issue as well (I haven't seen any indication of drug addicts using drugs in the bathrooms of the county library chain here).

The article basically starts from the premise that no one actually uses public libraries anymore -- they're primarily places for homeless people and junkies to nap, which in turn means that fewer and fewer people feel comfortable letting their children wander the stacks alone, and in general, it's just not as pleasant a place to spend an afternoon (the same thing happens to a lot of urban parks). The city can blow hundreds of thousands on making a lovely reading room, but I'm not going to use it if it's full of homeless people who haven't washed.

I was about to suggest that libraries with lots of homeless people should add bathing facilities of some sort, but then I remembered (1) you need to protect against people getting raped in the showers, and (2) even public lavatories have to deal with excrement getting flung around where it doesn't belong -- I shudder to think what a shower would have to deal with. So never mind. That would take a *lot* of money.

Better to just enforce a basic, reasonable cleanliness standards and kick the vagrants out.

Also, it is probably aggregate welfare increasing to let the druggies overdose and die as opposed to pouring money into trying to save them.

> Also, it is probably aggregate welfare increasing to let the druggies overdose and die as opposed to pouring money into trying to save them.

Now that might just be one of the most polarizing comments I've seen in some time.

Also hard to argue with from a utilitarian prospective. Of course, there is a probably reason, thankfully, we don't resolve most issues on what might be purely welfare increasing.

Re: Ryan -- it's like that Mitchell & Webb skit about killing the poor.

better to just phase out government public libraries, as they rapidly become very expensive anachronisms

public libraries are irrelevant now... just as printed newspapers and telephone booths

Carnegie had the proper approach originally -- privately supported public libraries

Not just public libraries: for how long will universities need libraries full of bits of paper?

I do have a stake in this argument (I'm a public librarian)... but they are not at all "irrelevant". And if you don't believe me, just ask the millions of people who use public libraries how "irrelevant" they are. They use libraries to access information that they cannot get at home, to borrow books that they cannot afford to buy, to receive technology training that they cannot afford to pay a school for and, yes, to seek shelter from the cold. They are for the public, after all, and even homeless people are members of the public.

They are not the same as they were, no, and there are plenty of challenges. But usage figures (at least at my service) remain high (and no, not just from the homeless). So that to me suggests that we are mostly certainly still relevant to a great number of people, even if the nature of that relevance has shifted over time.

Michael S: How would you respond to someone suggesting it would be a far greater good to use library funds to create a municipal internet service or subsidize internet access rather than continue to fund the outmoded brick and mortar library?

It's certainly true that much of the public doesn't read books anymore. Which presumably is why public libraries have so desperately tried to remain "relevant," by transform themselves into community centers and whatnot, something, anything, anything but repositories of dead-tree books. For a time it looked as though electronic media might fill the gap, but now even that is becoming irrelevant as media has moved away from disks to downloads and streaming. What's a public library to do?

They still have all those big old buildings (and often still filled with all those dusty old bookstacks that few use anymore). And, of course, courts have sharply restricted what they're permitted to do when homeless use them as campsites.

It's not as if librarians are going to allow their places of employment to Go Gently Into That Good Night without a mighty struggle. But maybe, perhaps, the taxpaying public should decide what it wants a public library to be, instead of leaving it up to these self-interested "experts"?

Watch the Netflix documentary Heroin(e). The injector they use to revive overdose victims basically knocks the opioids off the receptors so the victim wakes up immediately, going into withdrawal because there's essentially no opioids in their system anymore. So they go out and get high again. One of the firefighters asks "Do we have to use this to revive them?" Because they get sick of reviving the same guy multiple times in one week.

I use the public libraries. I move around a lot and the first things I looked for in a new city was the schools and the libraries. I am sitting here with library books for myself on the table beside me. We had our grand kids this weekend and I got books for them as well. I like libraries and book stores.

My latest best discovery is goodwill and St. Vinnies for books. Price is good and selection is diverse and forces me to look outside my preference zone. When I travel as I finish the book I leave them, typically in airports but sometimes in laundromats hoping others will find them and read them..


well, OK ... you like freebies (who doesn't), but you can afford to buy new/used books. You obviously have internet access also.

so why is it a vital government function to provide expensive libraries to people of your means ?

American government provides hundreds of various welfare programs to the poor -- why are public libraries specifically so important in year 2018 ?

A very odd comment and I'm not sure how to respond. I cannot correlate the public library with "welfare". How or why you did is a mystery. You seem to imply it should be ended; no more public libraries. I disagree. I consider reading to be valuable and logically to read you need access to books and other reading material. Libraries are a great asset to communities, families and K-12 schools.

I happen to think reading from an actual book is a joy compared to using a computer or a Kindle. I do use both but I am always aware of the inadequacy of that platform. Having said that I do like the advantage these platforms offer in volume/capacity.

Let me illustrate my point about brick and mortar libraries vs online access to books in a slightly different way' I like museums. Just as Tyler likes food/restaurants I like museums. I make a point of visiting museums when I travel. Much/most of what you can see in a museum can be seen online. So why go to the expense of building and maintaining museums? There is a value in seeing the actual artifacts and seeing them in a context. There remains a place for museums and there remains a place for Libraries in our high tech world.

'OneGuy' --> you don't read near enough if you find that comment odd & mysterious. Surely you have come across economic & political viewpoints other than your own? Fiscal conservatism in arbitrary government spending has been around a long long time.

....more likely that you are merely posturing to demean a reasonable viewpoint that you don't like. You imply that persons questioning current economic value of GOVERNMENT public libraries ... are automatically persons who do not value reading, books, education or other types of libraries; that's a rather bigoted pose/belief.

Every decision to spend a tax dollar in one area is a decision NOT to spend it in 1,000 other areas. Money is always very limited relative to wants & needs; prioritization is critical. Even you can easily think of higher tax dollar priorities than public libraries.

I live in a suburban metro area, and a few years back I was unemployed. I spent my days going to different suburban libraries and reading. All of the suburbs, even the very wealthiest, had noticeable populations of people who were either homeless or very close who sat there during working hours. Generally kind, not disruptive, but it was surprising to see.

One man fell asleep and the librarian asked me to help him leave the building, so I walked him out. He told me he'd been attacked with a crowbar by another homeless meth addict and he'd been addicted to pills for the past year, but if I was ever near the Starbucks he slept by he'd buy me a coffee. Life's sad.

sounds like you were unemployed and killing time in some libraries. what would have become of you if there were no municipal public libraries? (were you getting any government unemployment benefits?)

The link above covers when two Palo Alto libraries were closed to spray for bedbugs.

The libraries were more fun when they weren't being used as insane asylums and flophouses.

2. Mea culpa.

5. No, (Protestant Christian) religious beliefs do not show we expect the not nice to be punished by supernatural powers. God did not punish the Romans for crucifying Jesus, God punished the Jews for rejecting Him. That's a difficult concept for people (Christians included) to get their head around, but that explains a lot of inhumanity.

#5: Well, but it is telling how modern Christians "accept" Jewish much more easily than say, atheists. Shared moral values are becoming more of a rule than previous ways of tribalism. That is actually why we have the current "culture war". If that is good or not I am not sure.

"Well, but it is telling how modern Christians “accept” Jewish much more easily than say, atheists."
Politics make funny bedfellows. Such as Mrs. Gore and the Moral Majority.

Christians are justified by faith in Jesus not good works (according to Paul and Luther). That's what I meant by my comment (for those who mistakenly think Christianity begins and ends with the Sermon on the Mount).

What's more authoritative the actual professed words of Christ or some guy that showed up after the fact, having never even the slightest contact with Christ? I will not even go into how the majority of writing attributed to him is a double fraud, having been bizarre attempts by imposters to settle theology arguments after his death using Paul's apparent authority.

I don't wear a toupe, either.

Are you contending that a mass murderer or a conservative has a even chance at getting into Heaven?

This is an economics blog. Which makes more sense (to an economist): a religion that guarantees eternal Hell to a mass murderer (Hitler, for example) or a religion that forgives a mass murderer if he repents and accepts Jesus? The former is likely to kill again (he has nothing to lose) whereas the latter is much less likely to kill again. This is not a theology blog, but I would point out that Protestants believe in justification by faith but Catholics not so much (thus, Mother Theresa vs. the Protestant televangelist). Read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Costs of Discipleship. And read George Bernard Shaw's preface to Androcles and the Lion. Theology is not the Baby Jesus and Easter Bunny of our childhood.

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.

It's not a bad summary, you know.

Jeffrey Dahmer converted to Christianity before his death so he's in Heaven.

Letting the young vote makes their parents more likely to pay higher taxes.
“If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

#3 assumes that a high voter turnout is good in itself. I'd prefer those who don't care enough to show up to vote don't get a voice. It is also debatable whether a 17 year old has enough experience to vote. Maybe 25 is the age to allow them.

I heard on the radio a study "opining" (hey! it's a social science) that people don't fully mature, as to judgment, etc., until age 24 or 25.

The Catholic Church teaches that children at age seven are able to discern right from wrong, and allows/initiates children to receive attend to the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) and to receive Holy Communion.

Given that 18-to-20 year-olds are too unstable to be entrusted with any gun. Why allow them to buy cigarettes, to vote, to drive cars, to pilot airplanes, to murder their unborn babies, to be drafted or enlist in the military, . . ?

I am the NRA, which 6 million real people and not a monolith. In my perfect world, only non-felons, taxpayers, and homeowners would be allowed to vote.

"... those who don’t care enough to show up to vote don’t get a voice."

oh yeah, "don't care" is the only possible political reason that people don't vote (?)

walking away in disgust is not the same as apathy

U don't have a genuine "voice" now ... with or without voting

"Research from the Austrian and Scottish experiences suggest that 16- and 17-year-olds are as engaged and interested in politics and make voting decisions as well as older voters. Research from Norway, on the other hand, concludes that young voters are less mature in how they make those decisions."

"Engage and interested" does not make for a wise vote. Hence the Norway research wins and the professor from Denmark can invite the Berniebros to emigrate there and vote.

The arts-and-sciences faculty is 'engaged and interested'. Some of us would be pleased if they'd just stay in their bloody lane.

#1 Around here before the library opens at 9 am, I see a fairly long line outside , mostly homeless people. We probably have the most well read homeless people in the world.

7. Well, I thought Navarro being "back" was non-news. I blew that call. It will be an interesting week, in trade and in the markets.

Our village library (Nassau County on the border with Queens, NYC) doesn't appear to be in serious decline. I go in once a week to get a copy of a crossword puzzle and look over the new, nonfiction books section, which has been beneficial. Also, with a card, it gives access to many on-line publications.

One detraction is the lack of "classic authors'" books. Many are only available by order from a neighboring library. It's a small inconvenience.

It's not drug addicts or homeless people,. The problem is old, eccentric people like me.

2) Surely if the rich have abandoned the rugs, they'll decrease in price a bit (even if they do take decades to make, there's still a lot of built up supply)? The article seems full of complaints about the rugs being too expensive, which makes it sound a bit like Yogi Berra's "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

As is often the case, the article doesn't really justify the headline. Maybe Orientals aren't the trendiest of rugs, but the article doesn't cite any evidence that the market is collapsing or anything, which it would if rich people "abandoned" those rugs.

#3 As president Temer pointed out, "If someone is enslaved, no one is really free".

Well, I'm happy. I just cashed out of my 401(k) (luckily at the top of the dead cat bounce) in order to roll it over to my IRA.

Farewell backdoor Roth conversions!

4) Why would they?

Re: 5, the difference between good/bad and good/evil?

3. Their parents know them, and want to cancel them out.

#5 Hanson misses the obvious implication of his thesis - that an increasing opinion that war must be just is a reason for war to become less common. Even the organisers of covert wars (although maybe only since Iran-Contra) must eventually consider popular opinion.

1. This seems to me the strongest indicator that Hanson may be wrong in his assessment of institutions -- or perhaps that people will misapply his theories. Whatever the apparent role of the library may be, librarians in this instance see the purpose of their institution to some extent being changed and are doing their best to respond.

Many years ago a federal court prohibited libraries from removing visitors who defecated in their pants. The idea was that this would force Americans to find a solution to homelessness as otherwise they'd lose their cherished libraries. Instead, Americans abandoned libraries. Progressives never learn; because they're trapped in a stupid paradigm. But the progressives roll on. Soon they'll be defending the homeless defecating on your doorstep a la San Francisco. The progressives are too dumb to see what comes next.

"Genes don’t seem that important in shaping human gut microbiota." That may be the most gormless headline I've ever seen on MR.

Hmmm, I wonder if Tyler noticed this quote in connection with his friend's recent book about education being a waste of time:

People fear that story-less people have not internalized social norms well – they may be too aware of how easy it would be to get away with violations, and feel too little shame from trying. Thus in equilibrium, people are encouraged to consume stories, and to deludedly believe in a more just world, in order to be liked more by others

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